“You will be well housed and fed and paid your dues,” she said to them; “but the first man or woman who does a task ill or dishonestly will be turned from his place that hour. I deal justice—not mercy.”
“Such a mistress they have never had before,” said my lord when she related this to him. “Nay, they have never dreamed of such a lady—one who can be at once so severe and so kind. But there is none other such, my dearest one. They will fear and worship you.”
She gave him one of her sweet, splendid smiles. It was the sweetness she at rare times gave her splendid smile which was her marvellous power.
“I would not be too grand a lady to be a good housewife,” she said. “I may not order your dinners, my dear lord, or sweep your corridors, but they shall know I rule your household and would rule it well.”
“You are a goddess!” he cried, kneeling to her, enraptured. “And you have given yourself to a poor mortal man, who can but worship you.”
“You give me all I have,” she said, “and you love me nobly, and I am grateful.”
Her assemblies were the most brilliant in the town, and the most to be desired entrance to. Wits and beauties planned and intrigued that they might be bidden to her house; beaux and fine ladies fell into the spleen if she neglected them. Her lord’s kinsman the Duke of Osmonde, who had been present when she first knelt to Royalty, had scarce removed his eyes from her so long as he could gaze. He went to Dunstanwolde afterwards and congratulated him with stately courtesy upon his great good fortune and happiness, speaking almost with fire of her beauty and majesty, and thanking his kinsman that through